Thankfully most schools and teachers and last but certainly not least students have all moved on from a period of education that in all honesty is not that long ago, in my opinion only a mere 10-15 years ago in most cases and that's me being generous. Yet despite such progress, schools such as Auckland Grammar and Sydney Boys Grammar are two traditional schools that still adhere (from most observations) to notions of old-school teaching over new-school learning. As recently as last week, Sydney Boys was in the news for being strongly against the presence of digital devices in their junior high school classrooms.
For many others around the world, the move to focus first on students and the learning, and then teachers and the teaching has been transformational in not only giving students real-life and school-located academic advancement, but also in developing one's key competencies for life such as "participating and contributing" and "thinking critically".
So what does all this change, necessary for our now and our future, make the non-student in the room, a coach, a curriculum leader, facilitator, mentor, lead learner maybe? I'm not completely sure but I however know that the term "teacher" is so inaccurate for the role of the education professional working with the students of today and tomorrow.
When I asked my students what job title they'd give me, they came up with the following: teacher, academic friend (like this one!), tutor and guide. When I asked why no student put forward "coach", they collectively responded that a coach belongs in sport, less so in the context of academic learning.
In the "good old days", the teacher was at the front of the class, wrote on the blackboard with white chalk (the creative ones did use other colours occasionally) and the students wrote and wrote via pen and paper and were once-in-a-while allowed some conversation (but strictly academic of course!). I have to admit that this style of delivery was boring but devastatingly effective in ensuring students did well, often very well in the three hour exams (English in my case). However I often wondered just how much of their obtained content was ever relevant to them beyond the exam, let alone the classroom, let alone the future.
In the days of 2016, I now love the learning focus on my students and often being the "student" myself. I rarely if ever, write on a whiteboard but instead spend the vast majority of my lessons sitting with my students checking their understanding, their progress and answering their questions. The work required having been co-constructed with my students is pushed out way in advance via Google Classroom. Am I working less hard in the classroom; I actually don't think so. The sheer amount of 1:1 discussions and digital communication in one lesson alone, means that the time flies by for both me and my students. I am working just as hard as ever in my current context but arguably much smarter and with (and alongside), rather than (and down) to my students. Increasingly the monologue from me is a relic of the past while the learning conversations are not only evidenced-based but timely and personalized.
So what am I? A coach, friend, tutor, guide. I think I am indeed all of these and more. I think indeed I am a lead learner.